The Kerala High Court set a strong precedent on Tuesday by allowing a lesbian couple, Adhila Nasarin and Fathima Noora, to live together after they were forcefully separated by their parents. Adhila had filed a habeas corpus petition following which Fathima, who was allegedly “abducted” by her family, appeared before court. The two judge bench of Justice K Vinod Chandran and C Jayachandran simply asked the couple if they wished to live together, to which they replied yes. The court then helped reunite the couple through a proceeding which lasted for barely a few minutes.
Adhila (22), a resident of Aluva, and Fathima (23), a Kozhikode native, have been in a relationship since their school days in Saudi Arabia. They came out to their parents on May 19, and decided to elope and sought shelter at Kozhikode-based Vanaja Collective, an NGO that supports marginalised communities, after undergoing mental torture at home. Both families followed them to Vanaja Collective and tried to separate them again. Adhila’s parents successfully convinced them to come home by feigning support and promising to accept their relationship. They were taken to Adhila’s relative’s house in Aluva, where they were even forbidden from sleeping and faced emotional torture again.
Meanwhile, Fathima’s parents lodged a false complaint with Thamarassery police station alleging that Adhila had kidnapped their daughter. The police, upon realising that the adult couple had chosen to live together, dismissed the complaint. However, on May 24, Fathima’s family took their daughter away from Adhila by force. Adhila sustained injuries inflicted by her father while trying to defend Fathima from her family. Adhila was later shifted to a shelter home after Binanipuram police came to know about the struggle.
Dhanya, the couple’s friend from the LGBTQ+ community and a member of Vanaja Collective, alleged that the police play-acted in order to benefit the families. “Even after the HC decision, the Binanipuram police tried to take the couple to the station for a compromise with parents, which further affected them mentally,” she told News18.
Since she was unable to communicate with Fathima and after the Thamarassery police shrugged off Adhila’s attempt to file a complaint against her partner’s family, saying it was an internal issue, she took to social media on May 28 and detailed their ordeal. The videos soon went viral gaining massive support online. When Adhila finally got a chance to speak to Fathima on May 29, she realised that the latter was being forced by her family into conversion therapy, a harmful practice, banned by the Madras HC, that aims to “cure” a person’s sexual orientation. After over a week of being separated, the couple finally reunited on May 31 after the Kerala HC order.
Dhanya added that the couple’s security is their biggest concern right now due to previous experiences. “We are scared for their safety as the emotional blackmailing from relatives still persists. The certificates required for pursuing a job, passport, laptops and even Aadhaar cards are in the possession of their families. We are planning to file another complaint as they are not willing to give the documents,” she said.
With Pride month (read: rainbow capitalism) just starting, and the 2018 decriminalisation of homosexuality under Section 377 by the Supreme Court notwithstanding, India needs to buck up and be a better ally.
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